From Global Warming to Terror, SAFD Preparing for 21st Century Threats

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

The San Antonio Fire Department is looking to the future with a massive Community Risk Survey which aims to increase efficiency, deal with new threats, and improve response times, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Fire Chief Charles Hood says the future looks busy for people in his line of work.

"Global warming, if you want to say global warming, there are more fires, there are more floods, there are more storms," he said.  "So how do we deliver service, because these things will continue to change."

Chief Hood says one of the main focuses of his effort is to better identify the potential threats and challenges that exist in each of the ten City Council districts, and make sure the equipment and people with the proper expertise are available in those fire stations to handle those threats

."We have some of the same topography in the northern part of the city, that they have in California, where our firefighters recently returned from helping fight brush fires," he said.  "We have those same fuel loads, the same water challenges, the same topographies."

And the Chief says the possible threats facing a rapidly growing city which is becoming home to more and more high profile events, and means new challenges for his department.

"Ten years ago, we didn't have to worry about active shooters, ten years ago we didn't have to worry about ballistic equipment, ten years ago we didn't have to worry about an opioid crisis like we do now."

The Community Risk Survey will study every area of the city for everything from the potential for problems with hazardous materials, to terrorism, to the unique dangers those areas present in fighting fires.

The study also aims to reduce the SAFD's response time to events, which should help keep homeowners property insurance costs down.  For example, the baseline response time for a standard urban area fire today is 11:04 minutes.  The goal is to get that down to just over 10 minutes.

The Chief says he plans to have the study and the training that will accompany it completed by next spring, at which time the SAFD will seek accreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Commission on Fire Accreditation International, which would be a major achievement.

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